Monday, April 21, 2008
This line is what Blue Velvet is all about for me. We accept that bad people exist, its but what about the people who scare them? Who populates the nightmares of serial killers? David Lynch's villains are the answers to these questions, as they operate on a level of evil you never knew existed, and like Jeffrey says -- they do exist. For Blue Velvet's most memorable sequence, Jeffrey (Kyle MacLachlan) experiences the worst night of his life, serving as the night's entertainment for Frank (Dennis Hopper) and his cronies. I haven't seen Hostel or its torture porn brethren, but I will still say that Frank's "joy ride" with Jeffrey is the best (worst) torture scene of all time.
Lynch carefully sets up Jeffrey's encounter with Frank by having the naive lad witness his terror beforehand. As he hides in the closet in Dorothy's apartment, he sees a nightmare unfold before him, with a domineering creature controlling an innocent woman and forcing her into horrific acts. Frank's bizarre fetishes and psychological weapons are on display for Jeffrey, who is paralyzed in fear and cannot even think of rescuing the victim he had just met. Jeffrey is so troubled by what he saw that he can barely relate what happened to Sandy (Laura Dern), and searches for words to explain Frank's evil. But Jeffrey's fear is subdued by hubris, as his life has probably never been better since returning to his hometown of Lumberton: he's involved with a high school beauty, playing the role of macho private detective, and is even enjoying an affair with a dangerous older woman. That Jeffrey dares to enter Dorothy's apartment again, knowing there's a chance Frank could enter again, speaks volumes of how much he's enjoying his situation. Jeffrey may have been on a personal high after his second rendezvous with Dorothy, but his night would soon enter a cataclysmic decline after opening the apartment door to leave.
Frank's "friends" may be trapped in a similar web, because even though they appear to enjoy themselves with the man, they also are skittish around him and sometimes act as horrified as anyone else at what he does. They seize on Jeffrey and start wearing him down in the car, knowing he is defenseless and not wanting to appear weak in front of the other jackals. Jeffrey can do nothing but play along as their pinata.
--"I'm Paul!" x2
--Ben's dutiful, obese attendants who look like they belong in 1962.
--Lynch's amazing frame composition that manages to keep several characters easily in view without the screen feeling crowded.
--Dean Stockwell's other worldly performance as Ben, creating a character that defies explanation or description. Possibly the only person with more strange fetishes and mannerisms than his friend Frank.
It's also a credit to Lynch that the scene can be taken seriously at all with so many bizarre happenings and dark humor on display. It doesn't seem possible that something can walk a tightrope between nightmarish horror and profane humor, but what goes on at Ben's does exactly that. Jeffrey's nightmare doesn't end until after another terrifying trip in Frank's car, where he unwisely stands up to the monster. His ability to summon this courage gives viewers hope that there is an end in sight for the Worst Person in the World.
One last thing about Ben's, what the hell is that thing on the couch behind Frank?
Filed Under Worst Month Ever